Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Gaffe-ney



(UPDATE: Frank Gaffney was peddling the same lies discussed below on the Tucker Carlson show on Tuesday. Amazing. The above video is a brief clip of Gaffney's Lie Offensive on "Tucker.")

Glenn Greenwald and neocon policy maven Frank Gaffney appeared on Alan Colmes’s radio show last week. Glenn posted on their debate at his new blog at Salon.com. The entire broadcast is available for listening (and downloading) at Crooksandliars.com.

The impetus for this clash of good and evil was Gaffney’s eliminationist commentary in the Washington Times last week, in which Gaffney appeared to advocate hanging anyone who, well, disagrees with Frank and his neocon buddies. As you’ve probably heard by now, Gaffney’s screed began with a fabricated quote from Abraham Lincoln that suggested Honest Abe shared Frank’s fondness for the noose in cases of political dissent. I’d link to the column, but it appears to have been "disappeared" by the Washington Times (suggesting the possibility that the Washington Times may not be totally without shame). Gaffney, undeterred, regurgitated yet another eliminationist rant yesterday, the gist of which is that anyone who dissents from the Iraq policy of Dear Leader is guilty of suborning desertion by our troops in Iraq. I tell you, this man Gaffney is absolutely incorrigible.

I won’t bother citing Frank’s curriculum vitae here simply because, as will become apparent, the man is a complete charlatan. He purports to be an expert in matters of Iraq and Iraqi WMD programs, but I have charitably concluded that Gaffney is nothing of the sort. I say “charitably” because were Gaffney indeed an authority on Iraqi WMD then he would be one of the most brazen and shameless liars extant, for only someone either pathetically uninformed or pathologically dishonest could assert that the Iraq Survey Group, the Bush administration's handpicked WMD inspectors in post-invasion Iraq, had confirmed that Iraq maintained ongoing WMD programs in the period immediately preceding the U.S. invasion in 2003.

Gaffney, apparently unnerved by Glenn's scathing critique of his Washington Times column (and perhaps taken aback by an unusually aggressive Alan Colmes), made a series of shocking claims regarding the findings of the Iraq Survey Group, claims that are in each case belied by the ISG's own report (commonly referred to as the "Duelfer Report"). Virtually every claim made by Gaffney regarding Iraqi WMD and the Duelfer Report was an egregious distortion, and one need look no further than the "key findings" of the Duelfer Report itself in order to establish Gaffney's ignorance or deceit (take your pick).

Here is Gaffney's first barrage of distortions, to the effect that the Duelfer Report found Iraq was producing chemical and biological agents and placing them in aerosol cans and perfume sprayers for shipment to the U.S. and Europe:



Gaffney: "There was a hot production line for chemical and biological agents in Iraq." He says it's a fact. He says the Duelfer Report confirmed it. But here is the Duelfer Report's "key finding" with regard to whether Iraq was producing chemical agents:
Iraq constructed a number of new plants starting in the mid-1990s that enhanced its chemical infrastructure, although its overall industry had not fully recovered from the effects of sanctions, and had not regained pre-1991 technical sophistication or production capabilities prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). ISG did not discover chemical process or production units configured to produce key precursors or CW agents. However, site visits and debriefs revealed that Iraq maintained its ability for reconfiguring and ‘making-do’ with available equipment as substitutes for sanctioned items.
The Duelfer Report was equally unequivocal on the subject of whether Iraq was producing biological agents:
ISG is aware of BW-applicable research since 1996, but ISG judges it was not conducted in connection with a BW program. ISG has uncovered no evidence of illicit research conducted into BW agents by universities or research organizations.
As for Frank's aerosol cans and perfume sprayers filled with chemical and biological poisons, the Duelfer Report recounted Iraqi efforts in the 1980's and early 1990's to develop aerosol delivered biological agents but makes only one mention of aerosol related efforts post-1992.
Mun’im Mustafa Fatahi, a close friend of Dr. Al Azmirli, reportedly told Al
Azmirli that a group of people was actively pursuing ricin for weaponization. As
of March 2003, ricin was being developed into stable liquid to deliver as an
aerosol in small rockets, cluster bombs, and smoke generators, according to Al
Azmirli.
Ultimately, however, the Duelfer Report deemed this account to be "based on single source reporting of unclear veracity." In short, Gaffney's claim of Iraqi production and export of aerosol delivered chemical agents is nothing more than another febrile wingnut delusion.

But Frank was just getting going. This next clip is truly priceless.



Gaffney claims to be directly quoting from the Duelfer Report when he asserts that Iraq was engaging in "active production of chemical and biological weapons" (not merely chem/bio agents), and that "Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction programs." Again, let's go to the Duelfer Report, the key findings of which rendered unambiguous judgments on each of the three categories of allegedIraqi WMD : biological, chemical and nuclear.

With regard to biological weapons, the Duelfer Report stated:
In practical terms, with the destruction of the Al Hakam facility, Iraq
abandoned its ambition to obtain advanced BW weapons quickly. ISG found
no direct evidence that Iraq, after 1996, had plans for a new BW program or was conducting BW-specific work for military purposes."
The Duelfer Report similarly found no evidence of any chemical weapons program:
While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter, a policy ISG attributes to Baghdad’s desire to see sanctions lifted, or rendered ineffectual, or its fear of force against it should WMD be discovered.
And with regard to Iraq's alleged nuclear program - the existence of which Cheney was so certain, the "mushroom clouds" of Condi's nightmare- the Duelfer Report found not merely a lack of evidence of any program, but concluded with finality that a nuclear weapons program in Iraq had not existed since 1991:
Iraq did not possess a nuclear device, nor had it tried to reconstitute a capability to produce nuclear weapons after 1991. ISG has uncovered no information to support allegations of Iraqi pursuit of uranium from abroad in the post-Operation Desert Storm era.
Again, each of the preceding three paragraphs are contained in the "key findings" of the Duelfer Report regarding the three different categories of WMD: nuclear, chemical and biological. These key findings contradict Gaffney's claims that the Duelfer Report had found "active production of chemcial and biological weapons" and "weapons of mass destruction programs" in Iraq.

Even while conceding that large stockpiles of chemical weapons were not found in Iraq, Gaffney resorts to another gross distortion when he claims that the Duelfer Report was unable to explain what had happened to such stockpiles; that the fate of such stockpiles were a "mystery." Another "key finding" of the Duelfer Report stated "[w]hile a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991." Mystery solved, Frank.

As Gaffney would say, I'm not making this up. These are excerpts from the Duelfer Report. These findings were widely reported in October 2004 in connection with Duelfer's delivery of the report to Congress. The press and Duelfer himself similarly deemed the findings of the Iraq Survey Group to have contradicted virtually every claim made by the Bush administration (and reiterated by Gaffney on Colmes's show) regarding alleged Iraqi WMD and WMD programs. This is from the Washington Post article published in connection with Duelfer's delivery of his report to Congress:
The 1991 Persian Gulf War and subsequent U.N. inspections destroyed Iraq's illicit weapons capability and, for the most part, Saddam Hussein did not try to rebuild it, according to an extensive report by the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq that contradicts nearly every prewar assertion made by top administration officials about Iraq.

Charles A. Duelfer, whom the Bush administration chose to complete the U.S. investigation of Iraq's weapons programs, said Hussein's ability to produce nuclear weapons had "progressively decayed" since 1991. Inspectors, he said, found no evidence of "concerted efforts to restart the program."

The findings were similar on biological and chemical weapons. While Hussein had long dreamed of developing an arsenal of biological agents, his stockpiles had been destroyed and research stopped years before the United States led the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Duelfer said Hussein hoped someday to resume a chemical weapons effort after U.N. sanctions ended, but had no stocks and had not researched making the weapons for a dozen years.

Duelfer's report, delivered yesterday to two congressional committees, represents the government's most definitive accounting of Hussein's weapons programs, the assumed strength of which the Bush administration presented as a central reason for the war. While previous reports have drawn similar conclusions, Duelfer's assessment went beyond them in depth, detail and level of certainty.

"We were almost all wrong" on Iraq, Duelfer told a Senate panel yesterday.
The Duelfer Report was a massive undertaking, a 1000 page plus opus (and that's excluding the addenda). Failing to confirm the existence of any WMD programs, it strives mightily to give the Bush administration and its neocon allies something to grab onto, something sinister sounding and redolent of Cheney's "reconstituted nuclear weapons" and Condi's "mushroom clouds." Ultimately, Duelfer settles on the ridiculously attenuated concept of "weapons of mass destruction related program activities" (Colmes touches on this briefly in the above audio clip, noting the progression of Bush administration claims from WMD to WMD programs to WMD related program activities). Bush and his handlers were so pleased with this Deulfer Report construction that they inserted it into Bush's 2004 state of the union address, a gambit that succeeded in fooling a large segment of wingnuttia into believing that ongoing WMD programs had been found in Iraq.

A close examination of Duelfer's invention reveals that "weapons of mass destruction program-related activities" consisted of nothing more than the detritus of Saddam's dismantled pre-1991 WMD programs. My favorite was the Deulfer Report’s categorization as a “WMD related program activity” of Saddam’s redeployment of scientists and technicians away from WMD related research to non-weapons related research in their areas of expertise. You read that right – Saddam’s dismantling of WMD programs and redeployment of scientists and technicians was itself a WMD related program activity! As long as highly trained Iraqi personnel continued to work in their chosen fields of physics, chemistry and biology they were (in the estimation of the Duelfer Report) engaged in WMD related program activity. One is left with the impression that unless Saddam had relegated his Ph.D.’s to peddling falafel as Baghdad street vendors that Duelfer would have somehow swept their activities into the vast category of “WMD related program activity.”

The limitlessly elastic concept of “WMD related program activity” is testament to the lengths to which Duelfer was willing to go in order to provide some figleaf to the Bush administration’s lies about Iraq WMD. And yet even Duelfer felt compelled to acknowledge in the most unambiguous language imaginable that Iraq had neither WMD nor WMD programs in the period preceding the invasion of Iraq.

Listen again to the audio clips of Gaffney’s outrageous claims. I have listened to them numerous times in the last week. As delighted as I was by Glenn’s relentless evisceration of Gaffney, I found Gaffney’s seeming fearlessness in publicly propounding lies to be profoundly unsettling. He had the maniacal persistence of one of those guys in the midst of an angel dust induced rage who charges into a hail of police gunfire, absolutely heedless of the consequences. His unreasoning adamance was unmistakably of a kind with the recent delusional fulminations of Cheney, Kristol, Krauthammer and the rest of the patients in the neocon psyche ward.

These people will not stop of their own accord, no matter how discredited they are and regardless of the political consequences for their Manchurian candidate in the White House. They appear to be unconcerned about the consequences of continuing to propagate the most outrageous lies and confident that their grip on Bush (and through Bush ultimate power in this country) will insulate them from any backlash in response to their brazen deceptions. I don't know about you, but I find this scary, scary in the extreme. It suggests the neocons believe they have nothing to lose, and care not at all that the rest of us have so much to lose.

Here's one last, brief audio clip of Glenn and Gaffe on the Colmes show.



Listen at the end of the clip as Gaffney resorts to a silly schoolyard "wanna bet" taunt in a pitiful attempt to lend a patina of bluster to his absurd distortions. I doubt Glenn would take up Gaffney on his offer to wager (it doesn't seem like Glenn's style), or that Gaffney's offer to wager even remains open. But we already know that Frank Gaffney, like Jonah Goldberg (Gaffney's fellow neocon lackey with a penchant to parlay), would certainly have lost his bet.

5 Comments:

Blogger Jim said...

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12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watching the video clip, it almost sounds towards the end as if Tucker Carlson finally got a clue. When the hell did that happen?

2:01 PM  
Blogger Mack E. said...

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3:26 PM  
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